Part of the ongo­ing tragedy of the stu­pid­ity of Iraq is the killing of uncounted tens — or hun­dreds — of thou­sands of inno­cent civil­ians by (let’s face it) US troops. Without going onto the ethics of action under com­bat, the fact is indis­putable that, had we not invaded in the first place, those peo­ple would not be dead.

Often over­looked, though, is the could-​​have-​​been.

For instance there was a fairly hefty oil spill on the west coast of South Korea last month, a spill that wrought havoc on mar­itime ecosys­tems, and now seems to have killed at least one fish­er­man, protest­ing cor­po­rate inac­tion in the cleanup efforts:

Ji Chang-​​hwan drank poi­son before dous­ing him­self with inflam­ma­ble liq­uid and set­ting him­self alight.

Now I’m not going to try to blame this on Bush — but I am going some­where with this, so bear with me. In the same edi­tion of the Beeb’s news we come across a report of a flood dis­as­ter in Zambia:

More than 40 peo­ple have been killed in the region, and roads, crops and live­stock destroyed.

Rains have been going on for weeks and thou­sands are dis­placed. But wait, there’s a tri­fecta; hell appears to be break­ing loose in Colombia too:

Thousands of peo­ple have been evac­u­ated after a vol­cano erupted in south­ern Colombia, throw­ing out clouds of ash sev­eral kilo­me­tres high.

No one’s reported dead — yet any­way — but the eruption’s still young, so to speak.

What has any of this to do with Iraq? Imagine, if you will, a US mil­i­tary unen­cum­bered by a point­less, end­less, use­less war. Imagine a mil­i­tary that hasn’t been over­taxed and overde­ployed for the last half decade. Imagine an econ­omy not crip­pled by mount­ing and over­whelm­ing debt. What could the US do with all those resources?

Well, for starters … help clean up the worst oil spill in South Korean his­tory; or help with evac­u­a­tion and shel­ter in Zambia; or do the same in Colombia.

In addi­tion to the clear ben­e­fit of extend­ing human­i­tar­ian aid, the sta­tus of the US in the world as a nation in good stand­ing would go up a bit. We’d have more allies who would be less will­ing to house ter­ror­ists. We’d be liv­ing our ideals, behav­ing as a truly Christian nation in offer­ing care and com­fort to fel­low human beings.

But, you know, we can’t, because … well, you know.

George W. Bush, his admin­is­tra­tion and cronies, and every­one who sup­ports him can­not be for­given for what they have per­pe­trated on both our nation and on our planet. They can’t be for­given — because their vic­tims are all dead.

The sad­dest part of all, of course, is that they’ll never under­stand that. They will remain hideously twisted, mon­strous inhu­man car­i­ca­tures until their dying days, each and all of them, baf­fled at what all the fuss is about and won­der­ing why they’re so reviled.


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